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Annu Rev Physiol. 2014;76:431-45. doi: 10.1146/annurev-physiol-021113-170331. Epub 2013 Nov 13.

Live imaging of the lung.

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Departments of Medicine and Laboratory Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143; email:


Live lung imaging has spanned the discovery of capillaries in the frog lung by Malpighi to the current use of single and multiphoton imaging of intravital and isolated perfused lung preparations incorporating fluorescent molecular probes and transgenic reporter mice. Along the way, much has been learned about the unique microcirculation of the lung, including immune cell migration and the mechanisms by which cells at the alveolar-capillary interface communicate with each other. In this review, we highlight live lung imaging techniques as applied to the role of mitochondria in lung immunity, mechanisms of signal transduction in lung compartments, studies on the composition of alveolar wall liquid, and neutrophil and platelet trafficking in the lung under homeostatic and inflammatory conditions. New applications of live lung imaging and the limitations of current techniques are discussed.

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